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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Friday, July 08, 2005


Support For Stealing Property

All right, finally. I've been waiting for people to go on record in support of Kelo type eminent domain takings, and a few have now obliged.

Group #1 on record against individual property rights: Connecticut State Democrats.

The proposal was a response to the June 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said local government can take people's homes and businesses against their will for private development.
"It's a shame what the Democrats did," he said. "They voted against it to a man. We needed that legislation now, not next year." The Senate defeated the proposal 22-11, mostly along party lines, while the House killed a similar proposal 82-50.
Group #2 on record against individual property rights: some Hamden, CT City Council members:

Hamden's Legislative Council members differ with the state Republicans' reactions to the eminent domain issue. As they see it, if seizing private property will benefit the community as a whole, then the action should be taken
Specifically Councilman-At-Large, Ron Gambardella, R:

Restrictions on economic development would not be in the town's best interest, Gambardella said. However, he said the town must look for approval from the council before taking any action on private properties.

"It would not be prudent to restrict the town from ever resorting to exercising [its] rights of eminent domain in the instances of projects that clearly demonstrate the benefits of economic developments the residents," Gambardella said.
On the right side of the issue (perhaps oddly) are Democrats Curt Leng (Councilman-A-Large) and (at least in practice, apparently) Councilwoman Ann Altman.

Now, let me get to someone who has gone above and beyond the call and, in the process, nominated himself as the inaugural member of new group I call Enemies of the People (soon to be added to the sidebar). Who is the person drawing my ire? Senator William Finch (D). Why? See for yourself:

"This decision is obviously nothing new, and for people to be opposed to it because of fear that the government will take their house is ridiculous," Finch said. "The only time this happens is after a long process to determine if there is a public use for the private properties in question."

Finch alleged there are "a lot of crazy extremist government-hating activists that are funding the opposition."
Government hating? You mean like these guys? If that's the company I must keep, then so be it.

Seems like Senator has gotten a good start on political suicide. However, the article provides some interesting information on the "Honorable" Senator Finch:

Outside his legislative responsibilities, Finch is president of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, a quasi public agency that has been involved in taking over private property for development in that troubled city. The renovation of those properties is bringing new tax revenue to the city coffers.
I would imagine that it is also bringing money into the coffers of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, no? (More info here, scroll all the way down to the bottom. Their website isn't loading for me.)

But Sen. Finch, there's only one foot in your mouth and you've obviously got room for more. Yep, still room to talk around the foot:

Finch noted that in the New London case, the town planned to seize more than 100 properties, and only six owners sued. "We're talking about a small minority of people who want to hold up a project that will be good for the vast majority of citizens," he said.

"The view people have is that government will roust you out of your nice, suburban home in the middle of the night with nothing but your nightshirt during a thunderstorm. All the court did was uphold an age-old process that is never done willy-nilly. Like any process, there have been mistakes, but no one is mistake-proof."
You're at least partly right, Senator Finch. There is a small minority of the total number of people in New London blocking this deal. But the questions you have begged are 1) Do the "vast majority of citizens" even support the taking of this property? and 2) Even if the "vast majority of citizens" do support this action, does that give government the power to take a private individual’s property and give it (at a huge discount) to an another private entity? The answer to the second question is easy: No. Any questions? If so, just read the source document.

And of course, Senator Finch, no one really believes that the government is going to come to my "nice suburban home in the middle of the night" and give me the boot. No way. Kicking people out of their "nice suburban home(s)" would be really bad press. Better to just kick people out of their 'below median income, waterfront homes that happen to be right across from the brand-spanking-new Pfizer plant'. That's way more fair.

Finch isn't done quite yet though. In an amazing feat of oral fixation, he manages to get his remaining foot into this oral cavity. But that's not enough, he found a bit more room and so decided to evoke his power as an elected official of the people and simply 'takes' a constitutes foot to top it all off. He continues:

According to Finch, eminent domain is a "tremendous asset for public good," especially in economically depressed areas. "Bridgeport would shrivel up and die without eminent domain," he said.

He cited the example of an industrial park in Bridgeport, for which the city took over 30 properties. "Some were abandoned, some were burned, and some were still occupied," he said, "but every tenant was relocated to a better place and every homeowner received appropriate compensation."
Well, if Bridgeport is not a viable municipality, then maybe it should shrivel up and die. The basic, underlying, problem here is that Sen. Finch (and those of his ilk) thinks that 'increasing the tax base' makes a city 'healthy'. I beg to differ. The way to make a city 'healthy' is to attract businesses. How do you do that? Try lowering taxes, not taking property.

In all seriousness, I thank Senator Finch, and the others quoted in the article, for going on record with their opinions. It is always better to know where someone stands. How else can you figure out how to cut them off at the proverbial knees?


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